Review: Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

Monster Hunter Stories was a 3DS game that seemed like such a great idea on paper: take the vast array of monsters in the Monster Hunter series and put them in the kind of RPG gameplay you’d expect from games like Pokémon. So, you have a Monster Hunter RPG inspired by Pokémon on the 3DS. That sounds like a slam dunk, but it ended up flopping, even in Japan, which was surprising. If Capcom had decided to just call it quits with this spin-off, I wouldn’t blame them, but not only did they give it another chance, it’s come to us in the form of a full-fledged sequel!

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin follows some random person from Mahana Village. That community is full of Monster Riders, people who hatch Monster eggs and fight alongside them to solve issues that the village faces. They’re more dignified than Monster Hunters. Hunters go around butchering Monsters and using their parts to make weapons and stuff, while Riders ride around on stolen Monsters, butcher other Monsters, and use their parts to make… Anyway, moving on!

MonsterHunterStories2Image1D'awww! Who's an adorable little harbinger of death?

To make progress in this game, you’re encouraged to enter various randomly appearing Monster Dens that you come across, and collect eggs, so you can utilise the hatched monsters in battles against other monsters. Unlike certain other monster collectors, the Rider fights alongside their monsters. Nice that you don’t get them to do all the work, I suppose.

The main mechanic in the turn-based battles revolves around a rock-paper-scissors style of combat. Most attacks are split into one of three types: power, speed, and technical. If two characters attack each other in the same turn, a head-to-head occurs and the character that has the type advantage will do extra damage, take less damage, and fill up a Kinship meter that allows you to do stronger attacks.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, “That sounds like I’ll have to hope that random chance is in my favour”. Well, that’s the beauty of this game, every single enemy you fight has a set pattern they strictly follow. So, much like an actual Monster Hunter game, the key to success is to learn the attack patterns of each monster and use them to maximise your effectiveness. This is important, because the monsters fighting by your side attack of their own free will most of the time, and each one tends to favour one type of attack, so you’ll need to manipulate them into using what you need them to do by swapping them around and using the Kinship Meter to issue orders.

Something that lets the game down a bit is that quite a few of the areas you are required to visit are reused throughout the game. This approach is fine for when you visit the randomly generated Monster Dens, but when you visit a plot relevant place and find out it's just another randomly generated place, it's kinda disheartening. I was actually quite happy to finally stumble upon a tower with multiple floors to it, which says a lot.

MonsterHunterStories2Image2Somewhat complex dungeons are rarer than a Tigrex!

One key difference from the first game is that this one allows you to have an NPC rider and their monster fight alongside you, effectively making your team a party of 4. This is a bit of a double-edged sword though, as you don’t have any control over what they do, so they can really let you down sometimes. It’s not too bad, you just need to improvise now and again. The actual best thing about this new bigger party size is that you can join up with other people with the game and take on co-op quests. This has a bit of a Dragon Quest IX feel to it, which can’t be a bad thing, can it?

But that said, that about does it for what is new in a substantial way. If you’re one of the few people who played the 3DS original, you’re not going to see much that you haven’t seen before. That’s not to say this is a bad game because of that. If you’re looking for more Monster Hunter Stories, then this is a game you absolutely should play. The gameplay is just as solid, there are new monsters to play with, and you’re in for a good time if you’re an RPG fan, just don’t expect anything to really surprise you if you’ve played the first game.

While the gameplay is top-notch, the rest of the package doesn’t quite live up to it. It’s a gorgeous looking game, the cel-shading style looks wonderful, and the voice acting is good too (Even if there is no option to have everyone speak the Monster Hunter language). However, the framerate is very inconsistent, with drops being quite frequent throughout. That’s not even mentioning the textures popping in mere feet from the camera. You’re going to see a lot of grass blades magically appear out of nowhere while running around. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s a shame that it occurs, because everything surrounding it is quite polished.

MonsterHunterStories2Image3The more I look at this screenshot, the more I laugh!

Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a great RPG for those looking for one with a monster collecting focus. But it’s also a very safe one. Yeah, it’s weird saying that, considering how unsafe it is, making a sequel to a commercial flop, but it’s honestly the best way to describe this. It’s more Monster Hunter Stories, and that’s completely fine by me.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a game that doesn’t really push the boat out as far as this spin-off series is concerned. But no-one played the first one anyway. So, if it’s new to you, you’ll have a great 50 hours ahead of you here. And if it’s not new to you? Well, more of this charming concept can’t be a bad thing.

  • Gameplay5
  • Playability4
  • Visuals4
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan4
Final Score

8

Pros

The battle system rewards pattern recognition in a very satisfying way
The cel-shading really elevates the visuals in this game
Online Co-op is a nice addition to the series

Cons

Not much new to those who played the 3DS original
A lot of the dungeons are made up of the same areas you see in other places.
Framerate and pop-in issues are noticeably frequent


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